"Adults-only" weddings are more popular than ever, especially with rising wedding costs in a tough economy and the trendiness of having a destination wedding instead of getting married at home.
As a destination wedding planner, I listen to my couples struggle with the issue of not inviting children to their weddings. They worry about hurt feelings and guests who will be angry, but they're also worried about what to do if somebody ignores the instructions and brings children to their wedding anyway.
The concern is that if they don't invite children but somebody brings a kid anyway, the atmosphere will be ruined for all the couples who did spend the time and energy to find childcare so they could have a romantic, child-free weekend at the wedding. We frequently use the following language in the travel information materials to make it perfectly clear:
"While we wish we could include everyone, many of our wedding activity venues do not permit children so we have to ask you to leave the little ones at home."
You would think that would work, but it's not foolproof.
So what do you do if rude wedding guests insist on bringing children along even after you've politely requested they don't? You technically have no obligation whatsoever, but if they actually drag the kids 1,000-plus miles, plan on having them bring the little darlings to your wedding events unless you nip it in the bud.
Provide a list (if available) of babysitters recommended by your wedding planner or venue, and then let it go. It's not your job to find the babysitter, vet their skills, and pay them—it's the parents' responsibility to worry about childcare. If you cannot avoid having the children brought to your ceremony and reception, you have the option of providing a babysitter on-site to keep the kids segregated from the rest of the wedding.
Beware: Your friends might not love the fact that you're quarantining their children during your wedding, but remember, you aren't the ones being rude. Their little darlings were not invited and you're doing your very best to accommodate them without ruining your own night. If your vision doesn't include children as guests at your wedding reception, you don't have to change your plans.
If you have the advantage of knowing this is going to happen ahead of time, suck it up and make the arrangements for a kids' room. Take a trip through the Dollar Store and get some coloring books and washable crayons, and other quiet activities that might keep little ones happy and occupied.
Finally, do not be afraid to be straightforward and honest with any guest who lets you know they plan to disregard your wishes and bring their munchkins along. If you can put the kibosh on it before it happens, it will be better for everyone. You'll avoid stress on your wedding weekend and possibly doing irreparable damage to your relationship with those guests.
Sandy Malone is the owner of Sandy Malone Weddings & Events, a full-service traditional and destination wedding planning company and Do-It-Yourself wedding planning consulting service for DIY brides and grooms based in the Washington, DC area. Sandy is the star of TLC's reality show "Wedding Island," about her destination wedding planning company, Weddings in Vieques. Sandy's book "How to Plan Your Own Destination Wedding: Do-It-Yourself Tips from an Experienced Professional," is available where books are sold.